Fury - 'has some of the edge of classic Das Boot, which is praise indeed'
Writer/director David Ayer has had the theme of men doing their duty to varying degrees running through his work, from his script for Training Day to the gritty cop movie End of Watch.
So perhaps it’s only natural that the former US Navy serviceman should set a movie in wartime, where duty frequently involved the ultimate sacrifice.
To this end he’s assembled a great cast and delivered a film which doesn’t stint on action while also looking at the personal consequences of conflict.
Set in April 1945 as Nazi Germany fell apart but the Wehrmacht were still fighting to the death, Fury follows the crew of a Sherman tank as they try to stay alive in the chaotic final month of the war. The tank’s nickname gives the film its title, with Brad Pitt playing Don ‘Wardaddy’ Collier, the commander who’s led his crew from North Africa through Europe and has the undying loyalty of the men under him.
The audience surrogate is raw recruit Norman Ellison (Logan Lerman), a clerk who’s never seen the inside of a tank before and whose first duty is to wipe away the blood and brain tissue of the man he’s replaced.
It’s an old and trusted narrative device, as through Norman’s eyes we can see how his fellow crewmen — Shia LaBeouf’s Bible-quoting psychopath, Jon Bernthal’s primal Southerner and Michael Pena’s earthy Hispanic — have been moulded if not warped by what they’ve seen and done.
However, Pitt’s character is the most intriguing, capable of moving from outright savagery in the opening scene to moments of surprising tenderness, never more so than in a touching and quite long sequence when he and Norman regain touch with their humanity by having a meal with two German women after a town has surrendered.
As a war movie Fury does occasionally feel as if it’s been cogging from the Big Book of War Movie Cliches, but Ayer handles the action set-pieces extremely well, even if the climactic battle between Pitt’s tank and an entire SS regiment does have a touch of the computer game about its staging. That said, the sheer terror of what it must have been like inside a claustrophobic, sweaty and fear-riddled vehicle under fire is extremely well delivered, giving Fury some of the edge of the classic Das Boot, which is praise indeed.
READ: Paul Whitington's review - Fury - 'Brad Pitt and Shia LaBoeuf excellent in a film you won't forget in a hurry'